Imagine a steam train covered in thousands of fairy lights chugging through a forest at night — and that’s the Train of Lights.
This was introduced a couple of years ago as an attraction by a heritage railway and has proven hugely popular, not just with locals, but people travelling to the seaside town for the fun of the ride. It looks utterly magical to this old man, so imagine how your kids will squeal in delight when they see the glowing steam train.
Fortunately, this year it has not succumbed to You Know What and will be back again to delight people.
Once on board the Train of Lights, you will be propelled through the 450-metre Greenway tunnel that leads you to the enchanted forest which will be transformed by a multitude of lights and feature displays. The show ends as you leave the forest only to be greeted by the twinkling lights of Dartmouth reflected on the river Dart. After a turnaround at Kingswear and with the opportunity to disembark and take photographs from the platform, you will be on your way back to Paignton to experience the spectacle from a different direction.
All this takes place on the Dartmouth Steam railway in Paignton, near Torquay, which is about 2.5 hours from London, and a cursory check online at train tickets suggests that £40 return is not unreasonable.
The special steam Train of Lights runs throughout December, but note that the last normal train back to London leaves before 8pm, so unless you are staying overnight, look at the 4:45pm Train of Lights service.